Nearly two weeks ago, Houston Chronicle reporter Ben Wermund reported that Dave Wilson had prevailed against Democrat County Attorney Vince Ryan’s effort to overturn his election to the HCC board.
The main problem with the reporting? My setup just gave readers more context than did the largely unedited area newspaper of record. Here are Wermund’s pitiful first two grafs:
Harris County officials hired a private investigator to trail Dave Wilson for four days in their quest to prove he didn’t live where he claimed when he won a seat on the Houston Community College board in November.
But the evidence they gathered and presented in court this week – from clandestine footage of Wilson loading barbecue meats into his wife’s vehicle outside a warehouse, to pictures of the spare, clean apartment inside – wasn’t enough to convince a jury that Wilson was lying about his residence.
Ambiguous county officials. No reference as to how much this partisan vendetta — the only such effort made by the County Attorney’s office in the last ten years — cost taxpayers. But at least the reporter did get around to noting that Wilson prevailed in the court action (although the setup of those two grafs says a lot about how the reporter and editors — if there are any at the newspaper these days — actually feel about the development).
Readers are left rather clueless about what county official drove this behavior (Democrat County Attorney Vince Ryan) or what might have motivated him (pure partisan shenanigans, as far as we can tell).
Indeed, Democratic consultant Marc Campos, who occasionally deviates from the party line, offered more background on this story than did the Chronicle.
If the Democrat County Attorney or other partisans think that residency requirements for election purposes are too ambiguous in Texas, then by all means they should work to change those laws. Attempting to enforce such laws selectively to overturn the results of elections with which the partisans disagree, on the other hand, is not behavior that should be tolerated from the Harris County Attorney. And the area newspaper of record ought to be reporting with greater clarity on such shenanigans — ambiguous references to “county officials” verge on journalistic malpractice.
As for Wilson — he will continue to serve on the HCC board, and seems to be maintaining a sense of humor (as evidenced by the photo at the top of the post that he provided).